The West African country’s military junta suspended RFI’s broadcasts on December 4, 2022, accusing it of broadcasting a message of intimidation from a terrorist leader and misleading information. The broadcaster rejects the charges, saying the interruption occurred without warning and without implementing the procedures prepared by Burkina Faso’s High Council for Communication. According to RFI, the programs are widely listened to by the population: more than 40 % of citizens tune in at least once a week. RFI was broadcast on FM, free-to-air on several satellites, through about 50 partner radio stations and remains receivable on shortwave.
An uncomfortable voice
Burkina Faso is the second African country to shut down RFI: in Mali, the international broadcaster had been silenced on March 17, 2022 along with France 24 TV after reports implicating the army in abuses against civilians were published. Radio France Internationale has foreign programs in 19 languages, broadcasts on shortwave, and has 145 FM repeaters in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, as well as Central and South America. These are mainly countries of the former colonial empire, with a predominance on the African continent, which has as many as 108 installations.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the focus is on radio to educate young people about active citizenship and how to deal with the challenges they face, such as idleness and unemployment. Choosing the airwaves to dialogue with young people are the heads of state of the G5 Sahel, an organization that since 2014 has brought together Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad to unite efforts in the fight against terrorism. The initiative was also created with support from the OIF (Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie) and the European Union. Radio Jeunesse Sahel will begin FM operations on October 1 from Ouagadougou, where the last staff training courses are being held: 26 media professionals deployed between headquarters and national branches. The editorial and administrative directors are both from Niger. Aimed at the audience between the ages of 15 and 35, it will have six hours of programming in French and the main languages of the region, with repeaters in each country.